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Looking for some guidance about pieces of software to help w/ my compositions. I've been composing music for a while using Sibelius (and Finale at times) to scribe out parts, but recently I've been composing for much more polyrhythmic ensembles (african, brazillian, etc) and need a better setup.

I would ideally like a program where I can take recorded samples and edit/loop them in place while I transcribe parts on top of them (ie. sample and loop a few hand drum recordings that would useless to dictate and compose horn sections on top). The output wouldn't be meant to be performance-ready, but solely to help composition and communication.

I'm a little out of the loop on what software is available, and much of my research has turned up software that seems to be either aimed towards electronic music or multi-track recording (either of which may satisfy my needs but are trowing me off the trail). Anyone have experience with setups that might be worth looking into?

  • Use ableton live 9, it's quite easy to handle & learn. – saimcan Aug 11 '15 at 5:02
  • If you're willing/able to convert the score to MIDI (which really is just another kind of score), most digital audio workstation (DAW) tools can do this for you... and some of the pro-level packages are surprisingly cheap. (Sonar's down to $150 with a year's worth of updates, which I find mind-boggling; I just wish they had a Linux version.) – keshlam Aug 12 '15 at 4:42
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I've never used this feature, but Sibelius has support for syncing with the ReWire protocol. This enables you to run Sibelius and a DAW (such as Ableton Live) on the same computer simultaneously and in sync. So you could play audio loops in Ableton Live in sync with playback of Sibelius notation and its virtual instruments, and quickly go back and forth from working in both programs together. Would this be helpful to you?

The Sibelius website says:

ReWire is a standard that lets you record audio from Sibelius on a digital audio workstation (DAW), such as Pro Tools. It also synchronizes Sibelius with your DAW so they can play back at the same time -- starting playback in one program initiates it simultaneously in the other.

ReWire opens up all kinds of possibilities. For example, you could add an acoustic solo instrument line to your Sibelius playback by recording your score into your DAW, or by making Sibelius and your DAW play back simultaneously. ReWire is so widely used that you can connect Sibelius to almost any audio program—not just Pro Tools, but also Cubase, Logic, Digital Performer, Cakewalk, Reaper, GarageBand, and more.

  • Thanks Wheat! This seems like the best approach since I can stick w/ Sibelius for familiarity's sake. Now to figure out how to actually get ReWire functioning.... – Matt Manske Aug 12 '15 at 14:43
  • ReWire is covered in Section 6.17 in the Sibelius 7.5 Reference Manual (page 613). Next you'll need to figure out how to get it configured in the DAW of your choice. – user1044 Aug 12 '15 at 14:47
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If you're using a Mac system, then I would definitely recommend Logic Pro X. Logic Pro X is intuitive and it works wonders for looping and composing. It's quite simple to loop and audio or MIDI file within Logic and then you can easily transcribe it or compose some music while the loop is playing.

Logic Pro X can output to MIDI or an audio file, so if you compose using VSTs (Virtual Instruments, Logic Pro X comes with a bunch, including horn sounds) you can then output the MIDI file and touch it up in Finale if you wanted to.

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